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The compliment was unsolicited. It came from offensive coordinator Mike Sherman in his weekly press conference. And the more I thought about what Sherman said, the more I realized that not enough has been made of the impact Joe Philbin has had on this team in one of the most unusual seasons this franchise has ever seen.
“He (Joe) has done a phenomenal job to get us to this point,” Sherman said. “I’ve never had to endure as a head coach what he has this season. You have no idea what a task that is. To have the distractions we have had, I have to give Philbin tremendous credit. He demanded all of us stay on task.”
Indeed, how can you not admire the job Philbin has done this season? That the Dolphins are 7-6 at this precise moment with a real chance to play a 17th game is a testament to Philbin and the manner that he approaches everything he does.
He is calm. He is cool. He is calculating. He is even-keeled. He is organized and meticulous. He is focused. He is so precise in everything he does. There is no looking ahead when it comes to Joe Philbin. It simply comes down to this week and this opponent and everything else will just have to wait.
When you think about it, Joe Philbin has the perfect demeanor for the challenges he has faced this season, the perfect demeanor to keep his players on task, the perfect demeanor to deal with the onslaught of national media attention that, in truth, reached absurd proportions earlier this season.
“Coach Philbin never panicked,” said cornerback Brent Grimes. “Not once.”
How impressive is the resume Philbin has compiled this season? If the Dolphins beat the Patriots on Sunday to go two games over .500, I believe Philbin’s name should be mentioned in Coach of the Year conversations. Sure, there are coaches who have won more games, coaches who on the surface would appear to be more deserving.
But has any other coach overcome what Philbin has? Has any other coach produced a winning record in the face of so much scrutiny, so many distractions, so many issues that could have easily torn a football team and a locker room apart?
That Philbin has kept the fabric of this team strong and solid, that he refused to get caught up in the rumors and accusations, that he has maintained a semblance of normalcy during some chaotic times is truly a clear sign of coaching strength. And to win games along the way, to keep your team in playoff contention, is something that can’t be overlooked.
Granted, Philbin isn’t alone in this. His staff has clearly followed his lead. They deserve plenty of credit as do the players for remaining focused and unfazed. But it always starts with the head coach who undoubtedly must set the tone.
Think of some of the on-the-field challenges that Philbin and his staff have faced this season. Rebuilding an offensive line literally on the fly. Integrating new skill players into an offense with a second-year quarterback. Finding a running game. Creating more takeaways on defense. Overcoming a 4-game losing streak. Keeping confidence high despite a tough loss to a previously winless Tampa Bay.
And now you look at the results: The offensive line is coming on nicely. The quarterback has improved significantly in his second season. The running game has produced 306 yards over the last two games. The takeaways are up and the turnovers are down. And since that loss to Tampa Bay, the Dolphins are 3-1.
Through it all, Joe Philbin is simply approaching each day as a unique challenge and each game as the only thing that matters. In his unflappable, understated way, he has guided this team through some tough times and now has these players believing that December is theirs for the taking.
You simply can’t ask for a better coaching job than that.
On Friday, AC in the AM takes a look at Sunday’s matchup against New England.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.